Williams, Thomas (1668-1740) (DNB00)

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WILLIAMS, THOMAS (1668–1740), Roman catholic prelate, born in 1668 of an ancient Welsh family, resident at the Benedictine priory of Monmouth, made his profession as a friar of the order of St. Dominic at Bornhem, near Antwerp, on 5 Dec. 1686, taking in religion the name of Dominic. He finished his studies at Naples. Having been ordained priest in 1692, he was instituted rector of the Dominican College of St. Thomas Aquinas at Louvain in 1697, and in subsequent years he was appointed provincial of the English Dominican province. On 18 May 1724 he was installed prior of Bornhem. By papal brief of 22 Dec. 1725 he was made bishop of Tiberiopolis, under the archbishop of Hieropolis, in Phrygia Magna, in partibus infidelium, to which see he was consecrated at Rome (30 Dec.), in the chapel of the apostolic palace, by Benedict XIII himself. On 7 June 1727 he was nominated vicar-apostolic of the northern district of England. He resided mostly at Huddleston Hall (belonging to Sir Edward Gascoigne), near Hazlewood, Yorkshire. A letter of the internuncio at Brussels, dated 24 July 1733, announced to propaganda that Williams was in serious peril. The bishop was ‘actually obliged to fly to the most deserted and remote places to escape prison and torture, as the pseudo-archbishop of York [Lancelot Blackburne] had issued a mandate for his capture, on account of his having made a conversion (which caused great noise) of a protestant minister who, instructed by Bishop Williams, nobly resigned his rich prebend, and publicly declared himself a catholic.’ Williams died at Huddleston Hall on 3 April 1740 (O.S.), and was buried in the catholic church of Hazlewood, where his tombstone, with a Latin epitaph, is still in a state of perfect preservation.

The oft-repeated statement that he composed ‘Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire Ecclésiastique du XVIIIe Siècle’ is without foundation.

[Dr. Thomas Worthington wrote in Latin Memoirs of Bishop Williams (1741, 8vo, pp. 65). A copy was in the library of the late Bishop Goss (Gibson's ‘Lydiate Hall,’ p. 203). This manuscript was published in A Consecrated Life by the Rev. Raymond Palmer, O.P., which appeared in Merry England (1887–8, x. 411, 480). See also Brady's Episcopal Succession, iii. 253, 254, 258; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vii. 243, 8th ser. x. 456, xi. 53; Oliver's Cornwall, p. 467; Palmer's Obituary Notices, p. 11.]

T. C.